Jimmy Carter’s “Crisis of Confidence” speech 30 years ago

Balk succinctly puts this speech into proper context:  “It’s the last time an American President thought that appealing to a shared sense of sacrifice while being frank and honest with the American people was a good idea. . . it’s hard to look at this speech and not be amazed by the boldness of its aims or the implicit respect for the intelligence of the citizenry in its tone. Thank God everyone pulled together and we totally got the whole energy thing solved. Can you imagine what the world would be like today if we hadn’t?” 

Though the speech ultimately doomed Carter and his reelection chances in 1980, at least one scholar thinks we should look at the “malaise” speech as a call to action, much like Lincoln’s “Gettysburg Address.” 

Thirty years ago, we knew we had an energy problem that needed solving.  We had a president that spoke openly and honestly with the public about those problems and laid out a plan to solve them.  Thirty years later we are still in the same mess. 

And you wonder why people think nothing gets done in Washington, D.C. or has a deep distrust of the institution of government.  As cynical as this sounds, don’t be the least bit surprised when Obama doesn’t change anything.

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